lotesse: (freedom)
I'm trying to see if my understanding of the linkage of these two concepts as it currently stands in the US and the EU is accurate -- any corrections or further thoughts would be super welcome!


Earlier this year, the Brexit vote gave me the opportunity to learn a little more about the relationship between open borders and free trade in the EU. As I understand it, tying the two together is an attempt to fix the problem of globalization and empire identified by political and economic theorists in the 90s and early millennium: that imperial structures allowed the global West to financially drain the global South while trapping the people of the global South in the ruined economies they left behind. Granting free passage for people as well as money does not necessarily stop the drain, but it means that i.e. Pakistani people whose nation fueled the wealth of the British Empire are seen as having the right to follow their stolen money up to Britain, where they will be able to enjoy the benefits of the wealth that was removed there.

After the Brexit vote, I know there was some fussing in the UK over the fact that Brussels will not allow access to the common market without a commitment to open borders. My understanding is that this is how the connection of trade/immigration is meant to function, a carrot-and-stick bit that works to position cosmopolitanism and diversity as in the best interests of the financial class. This can feel unsatisfying to hard leftists, because it means bending the bankers into your allies instead of condemning them for pustulant bloodsuckers, but at least on a smaller scale I think I've seen the tactic work: in Mike Pence's Indiana, where it was the screaming of the Indianapolis business interests that got him to roll back that appalling bit of "religious freedom" anti-gay pro-discrimination legislation.

Am I right to think that the oft-quoted bit from HRC's Goldman Sachs speech, her dream of open trade and open borders, is expressing interest in the carrot-and-stick bend-the-bankers tactic I outlined above? Certainly, a lot of that speech reminds me of the maneuver I used to rely on when teaching intro to social justice topics at University: begin your appeal on the assumption that your listeners are ethical and engaged, and you can to some extent force them to live up to that idealized image of themselves -- or at least to sort of want to, which gives you a point for further leverage.

I read a comment recently that the US right and left are both re-evaluating their relationships to globalization, and I think that's accurate -- the Trump campaign is really pulling for isolationism, in contrast to the Republican vision during the Bush years, and more than a decade out from the frantic argumentation from the left against military interventionism in Iraq, it's once more possible to look back critically at the old anti-globalism arguments. As an older millennial voter, one of the things that is most striking to me about the old guard of anti-globalization leftists is their weird technophobia; witness this bizarre argument from Erik Loomis (who tbh I both enjoy and am frustrated by because he thinks so very like my own father).

Date: 13 Oct 2016 01:30 am (UTC)From: [personal profile] lavendertook
lavendertook: mermaids on rocks hanging out, preening, and jamming (happy mermaids)
Thanks for these thoughts. I'm trying to puzzle through all this.

Date: 13 Oct 2016 03:25 pm (UTC)From: [personal profile] starry_diadem
starry_diadem: (Default)
I'm not entirely sure I follow your point about Pakistan, since the UK has had immigration curbs on all our Commonwealth allies (formerly countries that were part of the empire, of course) for the last thirty or forty years at least. Citizens of Commonwealth countries have no rights of free immigration into the UK. Numbers are relatively low, and almost all entrants are here due to familial or matrimonial ties.

The Single Market allows for free movement of citizens - for work or domicile - between members of the EU only. The exceptions are those (very few) countries that are part of the European Economic Area, where for the right of trade with the EU without the massive tariffs imposed by other trade agreements, they have to accept freedom of movement as well as other EU legislation, even though they have no right to vote on EU measures.

The point is, you have to be a full or partial member of the EU club to have the right of free movement. Old empire links - ours, France, Germany, even Belgium - don't apply.

Sadly, the likelihood here in the UK is that we'll end up with the worst of all possible worlds, claiming our Little Englander Trump-like isolationsism is worth a tanking £ and an economy sinking out of sight, so long as we can stop those bloody Europeans coming in here stealing the jobs of true blue Englishmen. From which you may gather I did not vote for Brexit and I view the future with some despair.

Date: 14 Oct 2016 05:47 pm (UTC)From: [personal profile] starry_diadem
starry_diadem: (Default)
The EU started out in life following WW2 as the European Economic Community - essentially a trading block involving six nations on mainland Europe, all of which had been devastated by the war. The idea was principally to counter the sort of nationalistic fervour of the war years - a sort of 'world peace through free trade' notion. At that time, and for many years after, it remained a trading bloc. It has only gradually morphed into something where closer political union has been mooted - I suspect because if you're trying to create an economic commonality, that starts impinging on things like tax policy, company law, industrial subsidies and labour market policies (the bit I knew best when I worked on EU policy years and years ago) etc. If you were trying to harmonise trade, you sort of had to look at all the issues influencing any one country's industrial performance. That gradually started to spread to areas like judicial processes, foreign policy, common currency etc.

The UK has *always* been of the view we joined a trading community, and every single step toward closer union was fought tooth and nail by our government. I can't count the number of labour market committees where I was writing briefing for our negotiators that said essentially "No." Sometimes, on good days, I wrote "Yes, but..."

I don't think the EU as it stands now will ever support free immigration from outside its outer borders. It's about facilitating movement within only. It's not a *noble* institution, you understand. Not altruistic. It's as protectionist in its way as the US is perceived as being. The UK's former dominions (as they are quaintly known), Germany and France's African colonies etc will always be on the outside.

You mention legislation that has to be implemented by each state. You have a true Federalist structure, though, where the centre can mandate a single law. It doesn't quite work that way with the EU. They issue directives that set out a minimum that's to be achieved (on things like working hours, etc) but that's then beset with exceptions and conditions, and then each individual government in the EU produces its own national laws based on the directive, according to its own national tradition.

Directives almost always are agreed at the EU level through qualified majority voting. Hard to explain, but it's a weighted system where each member state gets a certain number of votes depending on a huge number of factors (things like population size). That meant the UK could often be outvoted and have to implement the directives anyway. Huge peeve factor there!

The thing about political union issues though is that these were not done as directives from the EU parliament or the Brussels 'cabinets' that look after various aspects of government (employment, health, justice). They are done at Treaty level and that requires unanimity. That gave the UK far more power. We just said "give us what we want or we won't ratify the treaty so you won't be able to go ahead". So the UK has never had a totally porous border with the rest of the EU - we opted out of the Schengen Agreement that implemented it - and nor did we join the Euro. We're an island off the mainland coast and our mentality, our approach to unification, reflects that. This, I think, mirrors your ACA example better?

It's all horribly complex and Brexit is a huge worry. Yes, the rest of Europe (at government level) is probably quite pleased that the grumpy Brits will no longer be holding them back and they can crack on with ever closer union. But the groundswell of discontent that fuelled Brexit - fear for jobs, feelings of helplessness and disempowerment - are rampant across the member states. It all feels rather hopeless. A grand experiment that may not get the results people hoped for.

Date: 15 Oct 2016 02:26 am (UTC)From: [personal profile] msilverstar
msilverstar: (viggo 09)
Thank you for a good perspective!

The trade treaty thing is so complicated -- the TPP seems like a good idea and supports small countries against China, which seriously thinks it owns all pieces of land (and sea) it ever conquered. And is good for the US of course. But it might be the right approach.

Then corporations twisted the system which ended up a race to the bottom in environmental and human rights.

That was the anti-TPP coalition, environmentalists, unions, civil liberties, and tech intellectual freedom fighters, and apparently nativist paranoids. Hillary Clinton saw how much resistance to it was in the primary and bowed to the inevitable. Which is good, reflect the people who vote for you. I assume that there will be a round II with some improvements.

I think global trade has mostly been good for poor countries, despite the billionaire kelptocracies. Fewer subsistence farmers, less poverty, a working class that can be more like th world they see on TV. But it's clearly not good enough, or no one would feel a desperate need to emigrate.

And then the roboticizing of service jobs in the US, it's so weird and anti-humane. Even my silicon valley tech friends worry about it, and we're all starting to talk about a guaranteed minimum support, so maybe some of the unemployed could study, or build, or make art or follow their bliss. But why should we have that and not people in Mexico or Haiti or Sudan?

I dunno.






daughter of the sea, oregano's first cousin

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